IS YOUR DEODORANT STRONG ENOUGH?

Just recently, while introducing an album with significant input from Steve Winwood, (Stomu Yamashta’s GO), I wrote about Terry Hounsome’s Rock Record 7. To illustrate both the intricacies of the book and the impressive count of Winwood appearances, I cited an example of an album not worth pursuing. With self-assurance and confidence, it was noted that ‘Will Powers Dancing for Mental Health should not necessarily be top of my Want list*’.

That asterisk is important. The footnote read:

* Of course, if I saw an album called Dancing for Mental Health, I would buy it instantly, frame it, and put it in my office. So I don’t really know who I’m trying to kid here.

I imagine this was roughly the moment when the Gods of Vinyl decided to call my bluff.

A mere five days later, having a break in the appointment schedule and it being a glorious Melbourne autumn day, I went for a stroll. Casually but steadily, my feet guided me towards the intersection of Gertrude and Smith Streets, Fitzroy. Standing on that corner you can see two record stores within fifty metres. Forget sunshine, crisp autumn air, the joie de vivre that comes from simply being out and about; true happiness is glancing between two record shops and deciding which to visit first.

Having made a selection, I happily entered Northside Records and began a peaceful browse. Not more than a dozen LPs had passed under my fingers when I encountered Will Powers Dancing for Mental Health and laughed out loud. Not just a little under-the-breath giggle, but a great big ‘Oh, the Gods of Vinyl are such jokers’ guffaw. I have never seen this album before in decades of crate digging (as the young folk call it) and had not even heard of it until researching and writing the Winwood piece. Recognising immediately that while the Gods of Vinyl might move in mysterious ways, they are not to be trifled with, I tucked Will Powers under my arm and continued with the browse, grinning in a slightly deranged way that the owner —he of the blond afro and funkadelic clothes— might well have found slightly alarming. Indeed, his smile could have been described as nervous when I handed over my tenner while quoting from that famous play MC Lear:

As flipsides to wanton DJs are we to the Gods of Vinyl

They spin us for their sport

Will Powers Dancing for Mental Health

WILL POWERS – Dancing for Mental Health (Island 1983)

So what is the album like? This neat review reprinted from Trouser Press sets the scene nicely.

The vast web of rock ’n’ roll seems capable of stretching to include virtually any bizarre concept anyone cares to bring to it, but this strangely strange album clearly exists in a weird league all its own. Simply outlined, it consists of New York photographer Lynn Goldsmith reciting motivational self-improvement exhortations and emotional psychodrama, mostly in a synthetically altered ersatz-male voice, over busy dance music co-written variously by Sting, Steve Winwood, Tom Bailey, Nile Rodgers and Todd Rundgren and performed by an uncredited crew, all ostensibly produced by Goldsmith. A phenomenal exercise of super-ego, this is both a Great Artistic Achievement and an unbelievably smug heap of horse puckey. [Ira Robbins]

Couldn’t put it better myself.

One thing not mentioned by Mr Robbins is that not all the vocals are in the robotic synth voice. The last couple of songs are delivered by someone who sounds remarkably like Nile Rogers and are all the better for it. Apparently ‘Kissing with confidence’ was a Top 20 hit in the UK and features an uncredited Carly Simon on vocals. Check out the clip here. Check out the checklist for kissing with confidence here:

Is your breath fresh?

Do you have spinach on your teeth?

Is your deodorant strong enough?

The heart of this 1983 LP resides in its self-help messages. For your personal growth and well-being, here are some quotes from the lyrics:

Lack of assertiveness can be a problem (‘Happy Birthday’)

The person who runs away from their problems is defeated by them (‘Will Powers’)

Paint a picture in your imagination of who you want to become (‘Adventures in success’)

Be thankful for your problem; it’s a gift in disguise (‘Opportunity’)

Will Powers inner sleeve

‘Opportunity’ has a series of case studies on ordinary people whose lives were transformed by Will Powers. In perhaps my favourite conceit on the album, the lyrics include this wonderful guarantee: ‘Donna, Miguel, Sophie, Ellen, Bruce. These people are willing to identify themselves because this record is authentic. If you wish, the record company will send you their full names and addresses.’ And yes, there is an address:

To become a Will Powers supporter write: Will Powers Institute c/o LGI 241 West 36th Street, New York City, New York 10018.

LGI, eh? Could that be Lyn Goldsmith Incorporated by any chance? Who knows. I haven’t requested the full names and addresses yet, but in case you want to visit, here is a map.

LGI

For anyone wondering whether I fulfilled my pledge by framing and hanging Dancing for Mental Health in my office, there’s no need to even ask. You don’t mess with the Gods of Vinyl.

Office

 

 

31 comments

  1. Yes, but what about the music! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s too subliminal to notice.

      Actually, it’s electro-dance of a rather undistinguished nature.

      Like

  2. ahah, you framed it! 😉 hell no, you don’t want to mess with the gods of your cosmos. lovely reading for my morning coffee, on a splendid spring day here. window open. fragrance of coffee and croissant from the cafè downstairs. jefferson airplane’s “pillow” spinning on my record player. your brilliant writing. good start 😉

    and thanx for introducing me to “crate digging” – i like it lots 😉 ciao mate! wish i was there to have a drink with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks P. Coffee, croissant, vino, surrealistic music… let’s do it!

      Like

      1. don’t tempt me, man. i’m on the loose and if australia wasn’t so rigid with would-be immigrants i would already be there. meet you at the corner of the street? eheh

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Don’t start me on the xenophobia of Australian governments. I’m amazed no-one has suggested building a wall around the whole flipping island!
          Meantime, let’s keep the idea warm like a fresh croissant. 🙂

          Like

        2. oh yes, eheh 🙂

          Like

  3. Side one is brilliant, side two not so hot. Apparently all produced by Todd R. Interview with Lynn Goldsmith soon to come on my site if she can fit me in to her schedule!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Look forward to it, Matt.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a sweet coincidence (read: divine intervention). Absolutely concur on your decision to hang the find – the playful interjections of the cosmic powers into our earthly day-to-day are good fun until they deem us outside the program, at which point their manipulations can evolve into full-fledged universal conspiracies of doom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. … and none of our deodorants are strong enough for that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think of it as a universal roulette wheel. Occasionally there’s a small but delightful win, but we know how the story ends. The house always wins.

        As Matt observed, side two is weaker, although it does have ‘Happy Birthday’, a quite confronting reminder of inevitable mortality but with the ‘up’ side being, we’re still alive and therefore able to enjoy the moment. Cheers for sharing this moment from the big C, Victim.

        PS. If you or the backroom boys can come up with an anti-consiracy spray-on, that would be super.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Unfortunately, early prototypes are not promising, too many quantum phantoms and the smell is atrocious.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Haha. Really enjoyed this, Bruce. I can only imagine the reaction when you laughed at finding an album titled Dancing For Mental Health. Marvellous.

    The lyrics read like those memes you see floating around facebox, huh? You know the ones – pictures of trees or Snoopy and suchlike.

    … and look at it. That’s an album that definitely needs to be framed. Good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks James. Yes, the satirical component is certainly based on self-help platitudes that now abound on FB and other social media. Was the LP the 80s internet? I wonder.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe someone sitting listening to this thought “I should put those lyrics on an image of a dog”. That’s how the whole thing started. The internet was created to share images like that.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Where there’s Will, there’s a way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, you have the album too! Cool.

      Like

  7. Are you free to look for Schrödinger’s cat next week?

    Great story, thanks Bruce.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Didn’t the cat escape from the box and get run over by The Merry Prankster’s Bus?

      Glad you enjoyed it DD.

      Like

  8. Interesting stuff, good sir. Not sure it would be up my alley, but I’ll give it a spin and see. And excellent framing job, too.

    Like

    1. You know, JH, this is one where the story justifies the price of the LP. I cannot imagine spinning this very often at all, to be honest. But it was a fun record collecting experience and really fun sharing the story with simpatico folk!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sometimes the sharing of the story justifies the purchase. This is one of those moments.

        Like

        1. Exactly. (We can justify any vinyl purchase, can’t we?!)

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Of course we can. That’s what makes us obsessives.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Thom Lieb · · Reply

    Great story and find, Bruce! In another example of synchronicity, something made me pull out an old Stomu Yamashta album right before you brought him up in your discussion of Winwood’s works.

    Like

    1. Ah, the invisible music memes… hope you enjoyed the Stomu spin, Thom. I don’t spin ‘Go’ often, but when I do, always appreciate it.

      Like

  10. I remember Kissing With Confidence – ‘shit awful’ would be my snap half-remembered verdict!

    I love coincidences like this and it is a damned good LP title.

    Like

    1. Neat summary all ’round sir!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Bertie wooster touring NZ · · Reply

    What ho, that is REALLY funny….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Delighted you enjoyed it Bertie. By gum, you get around. Shall we catch up next time you pass through Melb?

      Like

Comments and responses welcome for all posts: present or past. Go on, join in!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: